Reeling from Tragedy

by

Of all places, Norway was the recent recipient of a devastating terrorist attack that took the lives of countless individuals. The final count of dead and injured is still being tallied, leaving the Norwegian government stuck with a PR nightmare.

How do you prepare for the inevitable?

As a former news reporter on the Texas/Mexico border, I witnessed my share of devastation and tragedies while covering events as they transpired daily. Showing up at the scene of a shooting before the police arrived, reporting on two convicts who successfully escaped from prison along with the collapse of the causeway bridge connecting Brownsville to South Padre Island are just a few of the stories I covered during my tenure. The outcome of my coverage was often contingent upon the transparency of the information I received and how the Public Information Officer reacted. Too often there is a lull in responses from those responsible for releasing information and this can often cause more damage than harm.

Prior to my stint as a border journalist, I was actively chasing news for the Leeza Show, a national talk show on NBC. My hunger to be on the frontlines took me to Columbine just hours after the shootings occurred and there I witnessed a landmark tragedy unfold. When I arrived on the scene, there was one satellite truck, thankfully it was NBC but by the next morning the high school was filled with a frenzy of news media trying to capture the story. The most memorable snapshot of this horrific event was the interview between Katie Couric, Craig Scott and Isaiah Schoel’s father. The image of Craig holding hands with Mr. Schoel’s, an African American spoke volumes about the connection and comfort these two brought each other after tragically losing a sister and a son. This picture helped transform a devastating occurrence into an emblem of hope and healing.
The old saying, “Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you respond,” holds a lot of truth when it comes to the PR realm as well. You may not be prepared for the inevitable but you can respond in a way that can help paint public perception.

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